ELLIOTT SMITH

 

Without a doubt the world's most reticent superstar, Elliott Smith was born Steven Paul Smith in Omaha, Nebraska on August 6, 1969. His father Gary Smith was in medical school at the University of Nebraska, and his mother Bunny was an elementary school teacher. When Elliott was one year old his parents divorced, and he moved with his mother to Dallas, Texas. That same year, his father was drafted, assigned to the U.S. Air Force, and sent to the Philippines as a physician. By the time Elliott was 5, both his father and mother had remarried and his father and stepmother moved to Portland, Oregon. From the age of four to thirteen, Elliott lived with his mother, stepfather and two half- siblings in Duncanville, TX (a suburb of Dallas).

At fourteen, Elliott moved to Portland, Oregon to live with his father, stepmother, and two half-sisters. Elliott started to write and record songs at home in Portland on a four-track recorder. He attended Lincoln High School and graduated in 1987 as a National Merit finalist. While in high school he formed his first band, Stranger than Fiction. Elliott attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts and graduated in 1991 with a major in political philosophy. He then moved back to Portland and formed the band Heatmiser along with Neil Gust, his friend and fellow-musician from Hampshire College.

Elliott released his first solo album, Roman Candle in 1994. He followed with the self-titled Elliott Smith (1995) and Either/Or (1997), all issued on the independent label Domino. He also recorded three albums with Heatmiser in the early '90s: Dead Air and Cop and Speeder (both on Frontier) and Mic City Sons (Virgin/Caroline). In 1997 director and Portland resident Gus Van Sant used some of his songs in the film 'Good Will Hunting' (Van Sant had been a friend and fan of Smith's since hearing Roman Candle). One of those, 'Miss Misery', went on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Song in a Motion Picture. Elliott performed 'Miss Misery' on the Academy Awards telecast March 23, 1998. Elliott signed a contract with DreamWorks Records in 1998 and quickly released XO, his fourth solo album.

That same year his cover of The Beatles 'Because' was the end-credit song for the Academy Award winning film 'American Beauty'. In 2000, Smith released his fifth solo album, Figure 8, to much critical acclaim. After the release of 'Figure 8' and subsequent touring in support of the record, Smith concentrated on writing and reworking more songs, many of which made up 'From a Basement on The Hill', which was released posthumously on Domino in October of 2004. Before his death in October, 2003, Elliott had realized his long time dream of building his own recording studio, New Monkey, located in Van Nuys, California.

Elliott Smith's current release, 'New Moon', is a double-CD collection of 24 songs recorded from 1995-97, during the period of the release of the self-titled album and 'Either/Or'. 'New Moon', like those albums, was released by Domino. Elliott Smith was unquestionably the last real hero of the American underground scene, whose lives and loves, his songs chronicled so eloquently.

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FILES BY ELLIOTT SMITH

Image: Elliott Smith Roman Candle
Listen to: Condor Ave
by Elliott Smith
 
Image: Elliott Smith Roman Candle
Listen to: Condor Ave
by Elliott Smith